We’ve been able to use Google’s search engine algorithms to find images (rather than broader web results) for quite a long while, but have you ever tried using the reverse image search to find someone’s face? You can do it for free, and it’s actually almost as easy as performing a basic image search. In the article below, we’re going to walk you through the necessary steps, and also help you to find other online search engines that you can use specifically for the purpose of facial recognition. It’s a pretty wild and fun process, and as long as you have an image or two ready that you’d like to perform a facial recognition search on, you’ll be able to follow our concise directions to do it, as you read.
Of course, the only thing that we’ll caution is that you use it responsibly. Trying to look up your long, lost ex or an office-space rival is definitely frowned upon.
All of this only comes together to reveal how advanced modern search engines have become. Of course, Google is at the head of this pack, which surprises nobody. But quite a few other online search functions are definitely strong enough to pull off facial recognition. Once you’ve given it a try, you might become slightly addicted.
Because facial recognition searching isn’t just useful for finding more photos of particular people. Have you ever wanted to see which Disney character you resemble closest? You just might find out.
The best way to play around with Google’s reverse image search (often referred to simply as Google Face Search) is to use pictures of yourself. It’s safe, harmless, and it gives you a little bit of control with regard to your search results. Mostly, it’s great because it will let you determine how well the Google Face Search function is working.
And we’re not just going to stop with Google, either. Once we’ve shown you how to use the biggest name in online search engines, we’ll examine a few other services; lesser-known, but still quite effective and up to the task.
Google Face Search
When many people here the popularly applied moniker of “Google Face Search,” they might assume that it’s an entirely different service hosted by Google. Does it require an account? Some sort of signup? How does one find it?
The truth is, Google Face Search is just a popular (and honestly, more appealing) name for Google’s reverse image search technology, which has been present in the Google search engine for quite a long time. It’s easy to access, and more importantly, there’s nothing stopping you from using it. You only need a couple of things to take advantage of it.
- An online connection that doesn’t block Google search results
- A picture to use as the basis of your search
As long as you have these two things, you’ll be able to easily make Google work for you. There is no separate service to be found, apart from Google’s image search function. And the algorithms that Google has developed for its search engine are so powerful that it doesn’t need to keep facial recognition separate from the rest of the package.
How Does It Work?
Kick things off by heading to Google Image Search, which has its own dedicated website. Click through to that link in a separate tab, and you can follow along with our relatively easy instructions.
First, make sure you have easy access to the photo that you want to use as the basis of your search. It could be a picture of anything, really, but if you’re just testing this out for the first time, we recommend using a picture of yourself. For the reasons stated above, it’s more likely to give you better search results to parse, so that you can see just how effective it is.
Next, look to the search queue, but don’t type anything in. You should see a small camera icon on the right side. Give it a click.
You now have two options for how to use your chosen image. If it’s already online, you can simply copy and paste the URL in, without needing to upload anything. If it’s an image file stored on your computer, click on the “Upload an Image” option.
What you’ll be rewarded with is a very broad set of search results, based on their similarity to the image that you’ve uploaded. Depending on how clear and isolated the face is in the image you’ve used, your results will probably vary. However, there’s an easy way to get rid of almost everything that isn’t a face, if your results seem a bit cluttered with unrelated images.
If you’re getting quite a few things that have nothing to do with the image you’ve uploaded, simply type in the following additional search command: &imgtype=face. Though it’s not always 100% accurate, this will tell Google to remove all search results that aren’t faces. Pretty clever, right?
Using the above instructions, you aren’t just limited to facial recognition searches. Google’s reverse image search works with practically anything, so have some fun with it! And once you have, let us hear your thoughts in the comments at the end of this article.
Is It Free?
As we said above, the above process is just as free as the rest of Google’s search functionality. Facial recognition is simply built into Google’s image search capabilities. Any claim that you should be spending money on this is quite obviously a scam.
Of course, there are online services that promise facial recognition searching at a premium cost, usually with the offer that it’s somehow better than Google’s own. We’ll mention a few alternatives below, but as you’ll find out, Google is among the strongest search services that you’re going to find, online. Very few alternatives can compete with it.
Is It Safe?
Here’s where things get a little bit tricky. Overall, we feel confident in saying that Google Face Search is entirely safe, and you shouldn’t hesitate to use it. In the same way that you can type in a person’s name and get potentially get plenty of information on them, there’s nothing particularly wrong with using the facial recognition part of Google’s algorithms to find more pictures.
It all depends on how you use it. And as we stated at the beginning of this article, we encourage users to be responsible with how they take advantage of this tech.
Facial Recognition Searching
Of course, you aren’t just limited to Google when you want to perform searches based on facial recognition. Though Google is far and away the most powerful search engine operating online, there are alternatives more specifically focused on helping you find faces, rather than literally everything the internet has to offer.
Your mileage may vary while using other services. The reason that we recommend Google so highly isn’t because we’re fans of the service (though, it’s hard not to be), but because it just tends to be more effective than alternatives. When you consider the financial resources alone that Google can invest in its services, this is a pretty obvious fact.
BetaFace is one of the facial recognition services regarded for being particularly effective, but you’re only going to be able to demo it for free. If you want full functionality, you’re going to have to pay for it, and for our money (pun intended) you’re better off sticking with Google. Unless you need a remarkably powerful facial recognition service for professional purposes, BetaFace is overkill.
Most users are just looking to have a little bit of fun with the online matching of facial images. If fun is what you’re after, then we recommend PicTrieve. It’s not meant to scour the internet for search results, so much as it’s used for simpler tasks — discovering which celebrity a particular face is closest to, for example. It’s a neat tool, and does plenty of simple things very well, which is all that most users are after.
We’ve already talked your poor ears off about using facial recognition searches responsibly, so we won’t hammer that point any further. Instead, we’ll talk about some ways to make sure that Google Face Search (and other services) give you better results, that you can actually use.
First and foremost, the composition of your image is going to determine how effectively it can be matched with other face images online. If the background of your image is dark, and the face itself doesn’t stand out particularly well, your search results are going to be similarly muddled. Those results become even worse if you have more than one person in the image, so do some cutting and cropping if necessary, before you upload.
Lastly, do what you can to make sure that your images are unique. What do we mean by this? If your image is composed in a similar way, or in a similar place, to a ton of other pictures, you’re going to get very similar search results that may be based on elements other than the face.
Using the above instruction, you should have no difficulty using Google Face Search. It’s free, it’s easy, and used responsibly, it can be incredibly useful and a lot of fun. If you have any questions about this particular function of Google’s, let us know in the comments below! We’re eager to hear about your searches!